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Josh Hawley skips Attorney General Jeff Sessions speech in Kansas City

When U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks to local, state and federal officials in Kansas City on Thursday, Missouri’s own Republican attorney general will be absent.

Josh Hawley will not attend Sessions’ speech, said his spokeswoman Mary Compton.

Compton declined to say whether Hawley had a conflict that prevented his attendance, or if he did not receive an invitation.

Hawley is running in a razor-close race for U.S. Senate against Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. He’s closely allied himself with President Donald Trump, who won Missouri by nearly 19 percentage points in 2016.

Trump has repeatedly and harshly criticized Sessions for recusing himself from overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

Trump endorsed Hawley’s Senate bid in the early stages of the GOP primary. The president also has traveled to Missouri to hold several rallies and fundraisers with Hawley.

Earlier this month, Hawley avoided criticizing Trump over a tweet that accused Sessions of endangering Republican Congressional seats by indicting two of Trump’s earliest supporters.

“I can’t speak to those investigations. I’m not familiar with the details of them,” Hawley said at a campaign stop in Blue Springs on Sept. 4.

Trump faced rebukes about the tweet from members of both parties, and McCaskill, a former prosecutor, said she found it “outrageous and scary that the president would think that the Department of Justice should consider party politics when conducting an investigation.”

Sessions is expected to deliver remarks about violent crime on Thursday in Kansas City.

Although Hawley won’t be there, other state and local officials will attend the event at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the federal courthouse in downtown Kansas City, and Sessions will acknowledge some of them by name in his remarks, according to the U.S. Department of Justice, which announced plans for the visit Wednesday.

Representatives from the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Internal Revenue Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal agencies also will attend.

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